In the study, funded by the Physicians' Services Incorporated Foundation of Ontario (PSI), hysterectomy patients were given a combination of an anti-seizure drug called gabapentin and an anti-inflammatory COX-2 inhibitor drug called rofecoxib, in addition to self-administered morphine. The patients were asked to rate their pain while at rest (lying in bed), sitting up and coughing. There was also one measure of lung function, which assessed air flow after patients took a deep breath and blew out as hard as they could.
The results showed that patients receiving both gabapentin and rofecoxib, compared to those who received either drug alone:
Despite the recent worldwide withdrawal of rofecoxib by Merck Frosst, the results of this trial provide new evidence for using non-opioid analgesic combinations for post-operative pain management, says Dr. Gilron, pointing out that safety issues for Vioxx (rofecoxib) have been associated with long-term chronic use of the medication.
"In our study the drugs were given for three days, and usually post-operative analgesics are administered for no more than three weeks," he continues. "While rofecoxib will obviously no longer be used, we feel there is great potential for other non-opioid drug combinations in treating post-operative pain. Our study provides a trial design to look at these."